Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What Swiss Transportation Can Teach Us About Writing

(photo by Brian Opyd)

The Swiss transportation system is notorious for its timeliness and efficiency. So what can writers learn from it?

Punctuality is important. If you aren’t on time, you’ll be left behind. Meeting deadlines, whether they are self-imposed or from an assignment, is important and will help separate you from the millions of other wannabe writers.

Have a plan. The Swiss do. That’s how they wake up in the city and are at the top of a snowy mountain in time for lunch: The tram connects to the train that connects to the bus that connects to the cable car that gets them to that mountain restaurant at the top of the Alps. But if you don’t know each step that will take you there, how will you get to lunch? This same concept applies to writing. I have learned that a big goal—in this case, writing a memoir—must be broken down into easy digestible steps—and you must know what they are.

Slow and steady (usually) wins the race. The Swiss don’t have high-speed trains. But their punctuality, efficient timetables, and dependable schedules mean that about 99% of the time, you always reach your destination as planned. Rushing through things is usually not the answer—especially when it comes to writing.

Go outside your comfort zone. Swiss trains don’t just end in Switzerland. I can use my Swiss pass in Lichtenstein (ooh Lichtenstein!), to border towns in Germany (yes! cheaper groceries!), and to get half-price tickets in Austria. Reaching further than you think you can go with your writing is important too.

Trust is paramount. You can ride a tram in Zurich for over two years before someone official will actually check to make sure you bought a ticket. The level of trust in Switzerland is high, and likewise, as a writer, you could use a little of this trust. Trust that you can reach your goals. Trust that you are good enough. Trust that what you are writing is important.

What has something unexpected taught you about writing?

15 comments:

  1. Chantal - FYI I gave you a blog award today! See here: http://gathersnm.blogspot.com/2010/05/i-will-gladly-bow-down-to-candybears.html

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  2. Perfect timing! I finally made a type of squash the way my friend suggested - a way I have resisted forever - and it was wonderful! I was just thinking this morning about how in my writing, it might be good to try doing something I have long resisted. I am not sure what that is yet, but I will keep ya posted.

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  3. Hi Rebecca, that's great. For me, that thing would be to try writing fiction. I have long been a non-fiction writer.

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